(provided by candidate): The PI's goal is to develop a multilevel model for understanding emotional experience. Because there are no unqualified indices of direct experience, the PI began studying representations of emotional experience by examining the structure of self-reports. She discovered individual differences in the precision with which emotional experiences are represented over time, which she named emotional granularity. She chose the affective circumplex as a methodological tool to model individual differences in emotional granularity because its dimensions (valence and arousal) represent the causal processes associated with granularity. The PI defined two constructs, valence focus and arousal focus, to represent individual differences in these processes as they apply to generating representations of emotional experience. The PI's research has developed construct validity for valence and arousal focus using procedures from varying levels of analysis (social/personality, cognitive science, and psychophysiology); she plans to continue this work during the K02 funding period. In addition, the PI proposes an experimental research program to investigate the mechanisms that produce emotional granularity. Her goal is to directly model the processes that valence focus and arousal focus represent (rather than just measuring the indices as she has done to date). The PI will begin with behaviorally oriented studies utilizing methods from the cognitive neuroscience literature that have well-established functional neuroanatomical correlates. The result will provide a strong test of her hypotheses and will provide her with a clear functional platform upon which to move to the next phase of her research program (involving fMRI research). Moreover, the PI has developed her conceptual analysis of valence focus and arousal focus into a theory of how emotional experience is actually computed. Specifically, she hypothesizes that discrete emotional experiences are generated and represented by applying declarative emotion knowledge (associated with arousal focus) to core affective feelings of valence (associated with valence focus) via working memory. On this view, valence focus and arousal focus contribute to the granularity of felt experience itself. This hypothesis will be tested using fMRI experiments (in large part because fMRI methods provide the only way to test her hypotheses about felt experience at the present time). If successful, this work will call into question the assumption that emotional experience is epiphenomenal to emotion itself. Emotional experiences will come to be viewed as fluid, emergent phenomena that are constructed and elaborated via mental representations. In the broadest context, it has the potential to impact research where emotion plays some role.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research (K02)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-4 (01))
Program Officer
Quinn, Kevin J
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Boston College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Chestnut Hill
United States
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Bliss-Moreau, Eliza; Barrett, Lisa Feldman; Owren, Michael J (2010) I Like the Sound of Your Voice: Affective Learning about Vocal Signals. J Exp Soc Psychol 46:557-563
Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2009) The Future of Psychology: Connecting Mind to Brain. Perspect Psychol Sci 4:326-39
Pietromonaco, Paula R; Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2009) Valence focus and self-esteem lability: reacting to hedonic cues in the social environment. Emotion 9:406-18
Barrett, Lisa Feldman; Bliss-Moreau, Eliza (2009) She's emotional. He's having a bad day: attributional explanations for emotion stereotypes. Emotion 9:649-58
Barrett, Lisa Feldman; Bliss-Moreau, Eliza (2009) Affect as a Psychological Primitive. Adv Exp Soc Psychol 41:167-218
Lindquist, Kristen A; Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2008) Constructing emotion: the experience of fear as a conceptual act. Psychol Sci 19:898-903
Bliss-Moreau, Eliza; Barrett, Lisa Feldman; Wright, Christopher I (2008) Individual differences in learning the affective value of others under minimal conditions. Emotion 8:479-93
Wright, Christopher I; Negreira, Alyson; Gold, Andrea L et al. (2008) Neural correlates of novelty and face-age effects in young and elderly adults. Neuroimage 42:956-68
Kober, Hedy; Barrett, Lisa Feldman; Joseph, Josh et al. (2008) Functional grouping and cortical-subcortical interactions in emotion: a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Neuroimage 42:998-1031
Barrett, Lisa Feldman; Mesquita, Batja; Ochsner, Kevin N et al. (2007) The experience of emotion. Annu Rev Psychol 58:373-403

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